CUMBERLAND — Superintendent of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, Kevin Brandt, and C&O Canal Trust President, Mike Nardolilli, hosted a naming ceremony Friday morning at the Canal Place Festival Grounds for one of the park’s new launch boats.
Fourth-grade students from Cash Valley, John Humbird, Frost, Parkside and South Penn elementary schools all submitted names to be considered for the boat. The most popular name and chosen winner was The Katie Dreamer by the fourth-graders from John Humbird.
The students decided on the name after reading a story on “Captain Kate” and her exploration of the canal. The Raptor, The Neon Sailor and The Mighty Miner were the other names submitted in the contest.
Approximately 250 students attended the ceremony and later participated in a series of educational programs at Canal Place during the day. The children had the opportunity to “Meet the Mule,” tour the C&O Canal Visitor Center and the replica canal boat, The Cumberland, and participate in a program on the National Road and the railroad.
The C&O Canal Trust is the official nonprofit organization of the canal that helps raise money, run programs and motivate volunteers to help with preserving the canal, according to Nardolilli.
Nardolilli said that it’s important to clean up the canal and donate money to help preserve it because it is “an enormous economic driver for the region.” He cited an increase of bikers traveling on the canal from Pittsburgh and Washington and the hope that they will spend money at local hotels and restaurants as a primary reason to keep the canal in pristine condition.
“It’s more critical than ever for volunteers to donate time and money to help the park,” Nardolilli said.
The history and the nature aspect of the canal are really important, according to Nardolilli, but he noted that “it’s also really about dollars and cents” when it comes to keeping the national park in good condition and attracting tourists.
Nardolilli said that volunteer time is “appreciated by everyone” and encourages members of the community to help preserve the park in any way possible.
The C&O Canal National Historical Park attracts approximately 4.7 million visitors each year and is three times the size of Cumberland in total area. And as Brandt reiterated, “We have to take care of this resource.”